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Twickenham revamp eyes Hollywood

London area studio adds post-production facilities

LONDON — Its editing and mixing facilities, which have recently been home to “The Iron Lady,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Senna,” have earned Twickenham a solid reputation for post-production work. Other recent productions include “Bel Ami” starring Robert Pattinson, and U.K. comedy “Cuban Fury,” currently in production from Big Talk Pictures.

With newly refurbished stages and state-of-the-art post-production facilities, Twickenham aims to offer local producers a cost-effective base throughout all stages of the production process with a full range of production services.

Closer to central London than other studios, the facility’s accessibility makes crew transportation cheaper and simpler, and proximity to major transit routes convenient for location shooting. The management team plans to guide producers on options available to them in accessing tax credits for shooting in the U.K.

The U.K. has long been an appealing location for foreign production, combining experienced crews and updated facilities with attractive incentives, but attention has focused on the bigger facilities at Pinewood, Shepperton and Leavesden, the latter bought by Warner Bros at the end of 2010.

Smaller studios have struggled to compete. Bray Studios, the home of Hammer Prods. from 1952 to 1966, is soon to be turned into a housing development. When Twickenham Film Studios, built in 1913, went into administration — the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection — in February, it looked like the country was about to lose another historic facility.

Following a campaign to save the studio, which saw industry figures including Steven Spielberg, David Cronenberg and Colin Firth lend their support, Twickenham was acquired in July by British businessman and Sarova Hotel Group director Sunny Vohra.

Vohra plans 12 to 18 months of renovations at the compact 18-building facility at an estimated cost of £1.5 million-£2 million ($2.3 million-$3.1 million). The studio will continue as a working facility throughout the refurbishment.

“I decided that anything that had survived that long has to have a pedigree worth saving,” says Vohra, who appointed Maria Walker, a former post-production supervisor who spearheaded the “Save Twickenham Studios” campaign, as chief operating officer.

Walker says Twickenham is already a hub for sound mixing and recording, with the studio’s Richard Attenborough Theater one of only two in the country that’s certified Dolby Premiere.

Among physical renovations, improvements will be made to the outsides of the three stages and main building; the dressing rooms, untouched for 40 years, will be completely redone; and the foundation of a historic theater in which the Beatles shot “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” will undergo underpinning.

“The studio now has a future, but it needs investment. We want to try and take Twickenham back to how it was in its heyday, to provide a state-of-the-art facility where filmmakers from all over the world are able to produce the projects they want as they want.”

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